As a new faculty member at Shimer, I get to audit one course this semester, which in my case is “Humanities 1: Art and Music” (basically Intro to Fine Arts). One of the main focal points for the music half of the class is Porgy and Bess, and watching it this weekend, I thought of a potential connection between the Gershwins’ opera and The Wire.
The very first scene of the first episode of The Wire has McNulty investigating a murder that resulted from a dice game gone bad. The first scene of Porgy and Bess features a craps game that ends with a murder. While Wikipedia informs me that the incident from The Wire is based on a real story David Simon came across in his reporting, it seems to me this can’t be a coincidence — by starting with a scene parallel to Porgy and Bess, Simon was most likely indicating his awareness of the challenges of creating a work of art focused on the black experience, as a white man.
(I am posting this in part because I know many of our readers are interested in The Wire, but mostly because preliminary internet research suggests I may have the chance to be the first person to publicly draw this connection.)